Saturday October 9, 2010 @ Dokkhuset.

Territories, Temporalities, Transmissions:
Art, Technology & the Public Sphere.

Symposium that looks into questions and challenges regarding tekno based art and the public space.
Conference moderated and curated by prof. Jeremy Welsh.

Terry Smith, Anne Hilde Neset, Ina Blom, Brandon La Belle, Stanza, Vibeke Jensen, Jon Bewley, Stacey Spiegel.

INTRO

The symposium will consider a number of ways in which contemporary art practices,“new” technologies and the question of public space interact to produce a cultural sphere in which significant social, political, aesthetic and philosophical issues confronting contemporary society may be discussed and examined. Discussions will range from the critical and theoretical to the pragmatic and practical, taking up a discussion of ways in which artistic strategies based upon networks, technological developments and collaboration can determine our understanding of contemporaneity; looking at specific aesthetic strategies employed by artists in projects developed for public spaces; considering the challenges faced by producers and curators in staging complex, temporary artworks in public or semi-public locations.The keywords employed in the symposium title indicate some of the major questions to be raised: What are the territories of contemporary art practice? In what way does the question of temporality shape and determine an art practice framed by an engagement with technologies and with the Public Sphere? If the art under discussion is concerned with transmission (of information, of aesthetic experience, of embodied knowledge), then what are the channels for transmission, in what way are they employed and how are they controlled?

Jeremy Welsh, 2010.

TERRY SMITH

TRANSMEDIA, CONTEMPORANEITY, WORLDING: An art critical/art historical hypothesis

If interaction between art and technology during in the 1960s and 1970s generated some of the most interesting, even eccentric, hybrids of those combustible, wildly experimental decades, such ardor cooled noticeably in the years that followed. During the 1980s and 1990s the most prominent tendencies in international contemporary art embraced the globalizing image-world of consumerist culture but retreated to a distance––sometimes critical, at others conservative––from the new technologies that drove this culture. Artists committed to working within these technologies shared few of the values of the new economic order, or bracketed out such questions. Instead, they tended to privilege the technologies as a new medium, aping thereby the medium-specificity of the traditional mediums, and thus ghettoized themselves (remember Net.art?) at a time when art everywhere was becoming transmedial in its modes. Art begins to change during the 1990s because––against the hegemonic closures desired by globalization, narrow nationalism and the fundamentalisms––it is called upon to become an art of the world (in all of its antinomic diversity), and for the planet (to help stave off catastrophe). In response, many artists are using electronic mediums, among and alongside others. It is, however, their response to the demands of contemporaneity, rather than the medium(s) that they use, that makes them contemporary artists.

If this is so, then recent, anxious efforts to develop a discourse that joins mainstream contemporary art and aesthetics with new media art and theory might be mistaking one current of contemporary art (its spectacular, expensive forms) for all of it, and at the same time confining “new media art” to a past that it has already left behind. As the examples discussed in this lecture reveal, the field is in advance of its art critical/historical interpretation. Nevertheless, much remains problematic in current practice, many challenges remain, and more will arise. To artists exploring interactivity, for example, spectacle-induced interpassivity is a problem that, as yet, has rarely been solved (although it can be beautifully staged). In contemporary conditions, “territories, temporalities and transmissions” have morphed into a strange, unprecedented spatiality, and understanding their interaction has assumed a special urgency.

Terry Smith is Andrew W Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the Henry Clay Frick Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh. He is author of several books including The Architecture of Aftermath (2006) and What is Contemporary Art? (2009), both published by The University of Chicago Press. He was formerly a founding board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and is currently a member of the board of The Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. He is currently developing a conference & publication programme on the theme of “Critical Languages for New Media Arts”.

ANNE HILDE NESET

The 60s and 70s saw a series of large scale interdisciplinary projects with a utopian impulse to expand humanity’s knowledge base and create an artistic experience previously unheard of: The Philips Pavilion (Brussels, 1958), The Expo 70 (Kyoto, 1970), 9 Evenings (New York, 1966), are some examples of this leakage of creativity from one area to the next with a free flow of information between composition, film, technology, choreography and architecture. Have the ideas that these utopian experiments present been explored fully? We talk glowingly about cross pollination between genres and cross artform collaborations but is such work fostered by institutions and funders today? In my lecture I will touch upon some factors which has served to separate the artforms and point to areas where they converge, such as The Morning Line (Matthew Ritchie and Arlanda\Lasch 2009-10), a sound producing, travelling sound sculpture currently situated in Istanbul, and the work of Marina Rosenfeld and Nico Vascellari amongst others.

Anne Hilde Neset is a Deputy editor of The Wire magazine, curator and lecturer. In 2005 she co-founded Electra, a curatorial agency based in London and was a curator for Her Noise, an exhibition of sound art and contemporary music by women artists, performers and composers. She devised and delivered a series of lectures on Sound & the 20th. Century Avant Garde for the Tate Modern and has also lectured at OCA, Oslo and at Bergen Academy of the Arts.

INA BLOM

On Videosociality

In this lecture I will discuss certain fundamental questions concerning an artistic medium that was generally understood as a new image-medium but whose early practice tells a somewhat different story: the story of the medium as a social machine, invested in a fundamental reconfiguration of the very idea of social relations. The point of departure is the specific production of sociality taking place in a 1972/73 collaborative video project by Lynda Benglis and Robert Morris. In this project, the question of sociality is framed in terms of a critical encounter between various pictorial conventions related to the history of Western art and new signal-based sound and image technologies. Essentially, the work opens onto a different understanding of the so-called “social” art practices of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Ina Blom is a Professor at the Institute of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo. Her fields of research and teaching are modernism/avant-garde studies and contemporary art and aesthetics, with a particular focus on media aesthetics and interdisciplinary practices.A former music critic and radio DJ, she has also worked extensively as an art critic and curator. She has been a senior curator at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo (2000), and the curator of the Fluxus/Intermedia Archive at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Oslo (1988–1993). She has been an editor of Samtiden and of NU:The Nordic Art Review and she contributes to Frieze,Artforum, Parkett,Afterall and Texte zur Kunst. Recent books: Joseph Beuys, Gyldendal, 2001;The Name of the Game.The Postal Performance of Ray Johnson, Oslo/Kassel/Sittard, 2003; On the Style Site.Art, Sociality, and Media Culture, Sternberg Press, New York, 2007.

BRANDON LA BELLE

Lost in the crowd

The one who is standing apart  – or wishing to leave

To face the other – who is that over there

Or to disappear – is this the way to the park

As Vito Acconci states: “public space is full of private bodies.” Where then does the private body end and the public one begin? At one point does the art work become less private and more public, and what is at stake in seeking the other, as an imagined public? I’ll explore such questions, showing various projects that circle in and around publicness, and that also seek out their own dissolution into the crowd.

Brandon LaBelle is a Berlin-based artist and author, and a professor at Bergen Academy of The Arts, specializing in sound and media arts. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout the world and he is the author of several books including Background Noise; Perspectives on Sound Art (2006) and Accoustic Territories / Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010) both published by Continuum. His work often involves collaboration with other artists and musicians and he is a member of the international sound art collective “Freq Out” initiated by Karl Michael von Hausswolf.

STANZA

Stanza creates real time visual artworks informed by critical analysis of city spaces.

Stanza is an internationally recognised artist, who has been exhibiting worldwide since 1984. His artworks have won prestigious painting prizes and ten first prize art awards including:- Vidalife 6.0 First Prize. SeNef Grand Prix. Videobrasil First Prize. Stanzas art has also been rewarded with a prestigious Nesta Dreamtime Award, an Arts Humanities Creative Fellowship and a Clarks bursary award.

Stanza has made a series of modular artworks that express the possibilities for our data-mediated future. There are three strands to his working process; this involves collecting the data, visualizing the data, and then displaying the data.

The outputs from the online interfaces and online visualizations have been realized as real time dynamic artworks as diverse as installations, and real objects, made out of new display materials re-located back in physical space.In all his artwork he tries to exploit the changing dynamics of city life as a source for creativity to create meaningful artistic metaphors. Stanza utilizes new technologies and integrates new media artworks into the public domain as part of this ongoing research into the visualization of city space. In essence he is researching data as a medium for creativity and how new experiences of our cities may result.

In all his artwork he tries to exploit the changing dynamics of city life as a source for creativity to create meaningful artistic metaphors. Stanza utilizes new technologies and integrates new media artworks into the public domain as part of this ongoing research into the visualization of city space. In essence he is researching data as a medium for creativity and how new experiences of our cities may result.

His work has focused on new technologies and their relationship to urban space. In recent years he has spent time researching sensors, motes, CCTV, display technologies and interactive architectures. The body of work, ‘The Emergent City’ incorporates investigations into movements of people, the pollution in the air, the vibrations and sounds of city spaces. The archives of this data are controlled via bespoke online interfaces which have been re-formed and recounted into real time experiences, making emergent artworks.

By investigating these data structures Stanza creates new metaphors relevant to the real time experience of the city and the environment. The patterns we make, the visual and imaginative interpretations we give to real world events, are already being networked into retrievable data structures that can be re-imagined and source for information. These patterns disclose new ways of seeing the world. The value of gathering and re-presenting this data in artistic form, and then analyzing its impact and influence, lies in making meaning accessible to a wider audience.

Stanza will present a few of his artworks and projects from www.stanza.co.uk

Stanza is a London-based artist working across a broad range of media including painting, digital installations, generative net-based art and works for public space.Thematically, his work addresses issues including the uses of surveillance, the urban landscape and alienation in the city. He recently took part in Decode, a survey of digital, code-based art at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and was winner of an international competition to devise a public digital artwork for The Nova Cinema, Folkets Hus,Trondheim, a project that is under development.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

La Biennale di Venezia ie Venice Biennale: Victoria Albert Museum: Tate Britain: Mundo Urbano Madrid: New Forest Pavilion Artsway: State Museum, Novorsibirsk Exhibition.* Biennale of Sydney, The Brisbane Room: * Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo Mexico: *Plymouth Arts Centre: ICA London: Sao Paulo Biennale.

VIBEKE_JENSEN

In this presentation Vibeke Jensen will talk about her installations and their relationship to technology and public space. Trigger, her commission for electronic art at the new IT-building at the University in Oslo is almost completed. Here she works with surveillance technology and interactive light sculptures that reflect the building’s function and identity and emphasize its users. Cameras detect peoples’ movement in public areas and map their presence and absence in the building by causing a network of lights to change behavior. The colors of visitors’ clothing influence the color and movement of other light sculptures.

Prior to this work Jensen completed a temporary work for the Trondheim municipality: Site Investigation. She was invited to comment on fear, crime and the right to public space in connection with a public hearing in the WW2 bunker DORA. Her text-based interventions in public space included 2 Equation Shields, the electronic billboard on the main square, posters on bus stands and a video projection on a public urinal. Legal terms and mass media language were combined to form unusual equations questioning how language is used to keep some in and others out.  This project is the starting point for a new public art project by Jensen in Oslo this fall. Here the theme is migration, and the Equation Shields will be made interactive and the public can contribute with equations by SMS and the www.

Other projects include Blue Wall of Silence on Vaterland in Oslo where the 3m tall walls of her pentagon sculpture completely dissolved during the three weeks it was up. In Night Watch, a mobile video projection of an eye looked down at passers-by from urban landmarks in Shanghai and New York.

Jensen’s work uses a mixture of low-tech and high-tech components, tactile and sculptural qualities in a direct and confrontational interaction with the public. She aims at provoking a reaction, and to stimulate a thought process that enables the public to see things from multiple points of view.

Vibeke Jensen is a Norwegian artist based in New York. She works primarily with themes of surveillance and control, particularly in regards to public space. Confronting and exposing the ideologies of monitoring systems, Jensen creates temporary and transitory installations and more permanent works that explore issues of power, control and poetic expression of conflict, complexity and heterogeneity.

Jensen is currently a visiting professor at Bergen School of Architecture. She has a degree in architecture from the University of Trondheim and a Graduate Design Diploma from the Architectural Association in London. She works internationally and has shown in galleries and museums in New York, Beijing, London, Vienna, Bogotá, Mexico City and Norway. Her public art projects have been realized in Shanghai, New York, Oslo, Trondheim and Vienna. Jensen is the winner of international competitions and residencies, she lectures and presents her work at art institutions and conferences.

JON BEWLEY

Jon Bewley is director of Locus+ a curatorial, production and development agency for public, site-specific and temporary art projects, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Bewley studied Fine Art at Newcastle Polytechnic, where he became involved with the pioneering artist-run space The Basement Group which later evolved into Projects UK. Locus+ has worked with a broad range of international artists within a variety of different contexts and has also published numerous books and catalogues. Bewley has considerable knowledge and experience within the field of contemporary art production, ranging from small-scale one-off events to major public commissions.

STACEY SPIEGEL

Real but Abstract/ Abstract but Real

This presentation will focus on a path of discovery where art, technologies and the public sphere have come together, avoiding (overtly) the making of “techno-public-art” . What are the requirements of the art-technocrat who must keep the sluice gates open … always monitoring the flow. A flow that has to be directed, if not towards a prescribed outcome, then to a “sphere” in which … as was our goal … “learning happens.” At the same time in parallel always moving to the unknown — the unpredictable.

Human behaviour can be like that. So … in Marshall McLuhan’s terms — the example of Rockheim helps demonstrate how the artist without declaring the primacy of art-making, can be a social navigator with new technologies.

Stacey Spiegel is a Canadian artist, designer and producer who has recently been chief designer for Rockheim, the National Museum for Pop and Rock Music in Trondheim, where he has created a series of large scale, immersive media environments that tell the story of popular music in Norway. He has previously worked at the MIT Media Lab and has been a professor at The University of Toronto. He is currently an adjunct professor in Software Engineering and Games Design at McMaster University. He has designed and developed a series of interactive and immersive media environments for museums and other institutions in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as exhibing artworks at festivals including Ars Electronica, Multimediale and DEAF (Dutch Electronic Arts Festival).

ROB LaFRENAIS

The Arts Catalyst commissions contemporary art that experimentally and critically engages with science. We produce provocative, playful, risk-taking artists’ projects to spark dynamic conversations about our changing world.

Since 1993, The Arts Catalyst has worked nationally and internationally to promote understanding and cooperation between people from different disciplines and cultures. We seek new ways to involve artists, scientists and the wider public in a discourse about the direction and impact of science in society, and to explore new ideas and possibilities. We explore, generate and share ideas through contemporary art – exhibitions, events, workshops, residencies, conferences, publishing, research, and learning and participatory projects.
The primary focus of our activities is the commissioning and presentation of new artists’ projects. We work closely with artists, enabling them to realise their visions. Our commissions and events are presented in a range of venues: art galleries, museums and other public spaces. We aim to attract and engage a large and diverse audience in our activities and investigations.
Through our programme, The Arts Catalyst aims to enable and empower curious minds to have stimulating, social and thought-provoking experiences, encounters and learning opportunities that transcend traditional boundaries of art and science, encouraging exploration and experimentation, developing creative and artistic skills, and helping to deepen understanding of the relationship between science, culture and society.

Rob LaFrenais is curator of The Arts Catalyst since 1997. Rob La Frenais is a curator and critic who has curated and produced interdisciplinary and visual art projects since 1987. Before joining The Arts Catalyst, he was a freelance curator and organiser working in a European context in various countries, including being the Chief Executive of the Edge Biennale Trust in London and Madrid and the Artistic Director of the Belluard-Bollwerk International in Switzerland. In 1979 Rob founded the groundbreaking Performance Magazine, which continued as an authoritative cultural voice in Europe until 1992. He has a PhD in curatorial practice across disciplines and is an honorary Doctor of Arts at Dartington College of Arts.

JEREMY WELSH

Jeremy Welsh is a visual artist and Professor/MA coordinator at Bergen National Academy of The Arts. During the 1980’s he was involved as exhibition organizer with pioneering media arts organization London Video Arts (now known as The Lux) and he later established The Film and Video Umbrella together with film theorist MichaelO’Pray. From1990- 2001 he wasProfessor of Intermedia at Trondheim Academy of Art and in1997, together with Espen Gangvik he curated and produced Screens, a festival of electronic art for the city of Trondheim 1000 year jubilee. He has been chairman of the art & technology panel for the Norwegian Arts Council, a board member of Trondheim Electronic Art Centre and Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts, and has published widely on art and new media. He has recently completed two large public commissioned works in Norway in collaboration with painter Jon Arne Mogstad.

PROGRAMME

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